6 Gaming hacks to help you level up

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Tips to reduce latency, improve accuracy and performance for an overall better gaming experience.

1. If you have strict/moderate NAT configured, you may experience increased lag and may not be able to join or host many games. Check your NAT settings and if needed, configure open NAT, which should be relatively simple and straight forward to do. As configuring NAT is different for every router, tutorials and step-by-step guides are readily available online. The only choice you need to make is between using uPnP (open specific ports), port forwarding (open range of ports) or faux-DMZ (open all ports, your console will sit in front of the firewall). DMZ is the least secure but most convenient option. Because all ports are open, your console will be fully exposed online. However, console attacks are very rare and so many gamers choose DMZ
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2. If you find that there is a slight but noticeable delay between your controller and display, and you are using a relatively new tv, then you may have input lag. To reduce input lag, try enabling the game mode setting on your HD TV. Although this may slightly reduce image quality, it will result in better gameplay. If this option is not available on your TV, you should still be able to manually reduce the image quality and disable any advanced image rendering settings.
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3. Use a wired connection if you can. If not possible, you can still optimise your Wi-fi connection by

  • Placing your router in a wifi sweetspot (Hint: Plenty of iOS and Android apps are available to detect these spots)
  • Boost your wifi signal with a beer can.
  • Switch off all other wifi connections (e.g. enable airplane mode on all your wifi devices e.g. mobile/laptops).
  • Restart the router to get a fresh connection

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4. This also applies to controllers. Use wired connections whenever possible.

5. Customize controller settings. Increase the sensitivity settings on your controller for more accurate shots and faster movements e.g. Sens 3-6 is the pro range for Halo players.

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6. Use headphones with inbuilt surround sound so you know what is happening around you/ where your enemies are etc.

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Zero-Carbon cities: Technology game-changer series (part 3/3)

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Masdar City, the world’s first zero-carbon city, won’t actually be zero-carbon, but it will be the greenest city ever built. Designed by British architect “Foster the City”, Masdar is a blend of the ancient and the high-tech. It is a low-carbon, skyscraper-free city built in the middle of a harsh desert, near the historic city of Abu Dhabi. It has a simple mantra “only use energy when you have exhausted design”

The city is powered by the sun. It is 90% solar powered, with the rest made up of wind, geothermal and even hydrogen. Recycling and composting is a high priority for the city. 80% of water will also be recycled and grey water being used for irrigation.

6 Interesting facts about Masdar city.

  1. It wasn’t the first project of its kind. Dongtan, a project to build a zero-carbon city in Chongming city was supposed to go ahead in 2006, but has since been put on hold indefinitely.
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  2. Inspired by old Arab settlements, including the ancient Aleppo Citadel in Syria, the buildings are built on higher ground, shade each other and designed in such a way to keep the air as cool as possible. This also includes the funneling of the natural sea breezes into the Masdar streets via tall wind towers.
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  3. Cars are banned, as Masdar will be the home of a new form of transportation called Personal Rapid Transportation, otherwise known as driverless cars
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  4. Currently home to 120 Masdar Institute of Science and Technology students, it estimates that eventually it will be home to 50,000 residents & 4,000 businesses. A number of businesses and services have already opened in Masdar. These include restaurants, travel agencies, supermarkets, offices (e.g. Siemens and General Electric), a university and a library.
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  5. Masdar is already available as a travel destination. You can read the reviews on Tripadvisor.
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  6. Narendra Modi, Ban Ki Moon and Hillary Clinton are just some of the world leaders who have visited and been inspired by Masdar City. Narendra Modi has even buzzed around in a driverless car.
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Space Liners: Technology game-changer series (part 2/3)

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Dronies (selfies with a drone), 90 minute flights from Australia to the UK and zero-carbon cities are just some of the great innovations that we can look forward to by 2021. This technology series showcases some of the best the world has to offer.

1. What is a Spaceliner? Well it is not the Concorde
Supersonic aircraft that uses a rocket engine to take off. Supersonic or “twice the speed of sound” technology has actually been around since 1969. The Concorde was the first commercially viable supersonic flight and operated from 1969-2003. It was the fastest way to fly and held an unbroken safety record until 2000. The routes were taken by the rich, famous and powerful.

The Space Liner improves upon this technology to make it a safer, less noisy and more efficient way to fly. Learning from the technological and business failings of the Concorde, Space Liners have attracted great investor and research interest. E.g. Virgin Galactic, Aerion & Airbus.

2. It will save so much time
Humanity has progressed so fast in distance travel.

  • 1850 – Travel from Europe to Australia via sail would take at least 2 months with good winds and up to 4 months in calm weather.
  • 1900 – Travel via steamships on the Suez Canal route reduced travel time to just over 1 month.
  • 1930s – Air travel for wealthy immigrants became available. It still took 11 days and over 24 stopovers to travel from Australia to Europe.
  • 1960s – “Golden era of travel” Air travel became mainstream. By 1969, the Kangaroo route between London and Sydney took around 32 hours with 6 stopovers.
  • 1989 – Qantas set a world record, flying from Sydney to Australia in 20 hours.
  • 2015 – Today on average, it takes around 23 hours to fly from Australia to London.
  • By 2020, a flight from Sydney to London may just take 90 minutes.

3. It will be available on domestic flights – eventually
Aircraft manufacturers predict that Space Liners will go to market in 5-10 years or at least by 2050. Although at first, the routes will be first/business class flights, the business case for domestic flights is proven. It may take longer, but large aircraft manufacturers, who have spent years researching the technology and the market are optimistic.

4. It is environmentally friendlier than aircraft
The SpaceLiner only emits water vapour. The SpaceLiner’s reusable liquid rocket engines are made up of Liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen.

5. An out-of-the-world experience
At 65,000ft, we will already be able to see the curvature of the earth and experience the feeling of travelling at twice the speed of sound. Additionally, we may even get the chance to travel out-of-space in our lifetime. Virgin Galactic has ambitious plans for establishing a sub-orbital route. Even with set-backs potentially delaying the original take-off date of 2018, we can expect to see this happen in our lifetime. If this does take off – we may someday get to see the blue earth while being weightless in space.

Next: Zero carbon cities

The Age of Drones: Technology game-changer series (part 1/3)

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Dronies (selfies with a drone), 90 minute flights from Australia to the UK and zero-carbon cities are just some of the great innovations that we can look forward to by 2021. This technology series showcases some of the best the world has to offer.

In 2007, Jordi Munoz & Chris Anderson met on an online community started by Chris Anderson called “DIY Drones”. Jordi was a 19-year old Mexican immigrant who assembled a drone from parts of a Wii controller and radio-operated toy helicopter. Soon after sharing his discovery on the forum, Chris & Jordi established 3D Robotics to sell drones to the DIY community, however, the co-owners were met with such ferocious demand outside the DIY community that the company expanded into what it has become today.

Earlier in 2015, 3D Robotics raised $50 million in investment funding. Another drone company, DJI, raised $75 million in the same year. DJI, with their popular Phantom drones, are the current market leader and are expecting to make $1 billion this year.

This is just the beginning. In early 2015, GoPro announced that they have joined with 3D Robotics to release their first drone by 2016 and the market loves it. GoPro’s shares received a 6.5% boost on the day of the announcement. In another world first, Singapore Post have announced that they are testing drone deliveries of snail mail.

Governments are responding too. New drone laws have been legislated to protect privacy and security. This includes the extension of anti-peeping laws to prevent unwarranted surveillance and spying, as well as extended civil aviation laws to prevent drones from destroying aircraft and other drones. New laws will also prevent people from destroying/vandalizing other people’s drones.

We are on the cusp of a new age of drones and it is hard to predict just how different our world may look in a few years’ time.

Next: How Space liners may change the way we fly.

Please note: I have no shares in any of the companies mentioned and will not receive any payment for these posts.

Dronies – The new Selfie!

Drones Sacrificed for Spectacular Volcano Video

The internet is growing darker day-by-day

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In the deepest corners of the dark web, anything goes. These are sites that cannot be found using typical search browsers like Google and Yahoo and are usually not accessed via a standard operating system like Microsoft or Apple. Instead, individuals access these sites using The Onion Router (TOR) browser and a hidden operating system (e.g. Tails) booted from a USB or CD.

TOR isn’t secret, in fact TOR is widely used by a diverse range of groups including criminals, non-criminals, NGOS, journalists, security researchers and government authorities alike who need to browse anonymously for a number of reasons. It is the security in numbers that can protect a TOR user’s anonymity and freedom from censorship.

For those interested in using TOR though – beware. TOR is not banned, which means that authorities, like the NSA, may be gaining good intelligence on TOR users. For user’s who are not security savvy, the government may even know what they are visiting.

TOR is a free utility that anyone can download and configure. The TOR website offers clear instructions on how to do this. Once set-up, the user connects to a series of encrypted TOR servers (which are also physically located in a secure location) before they connect to the destination site. As the connection is encrypted at each node, it is not possible to detect where the original request came from through traffic packet analysis alone. However, it is possible for Internet Security Provider’s (ISP’s) to distinguish TOR traffic from regular traffic– they just won’t know what you are accessing. Even if authorities took over a hidden dark web server or set-up a dark web honeypot to lure users, it will be difficult for them to identify the users (but not impossible*).

Despite the risks of being caught – the use of TOR in accessing the dark web is increasing. On the dark web, users can purchase personal credentials, illegal drugs and weapons. They can also hire hitmen, order DDos or other attacks and plan criminal/terrorist activities. The dark web is also full of some of the most terrifying web content shared by disturbed minds. Silk Road may have been closed down but it can easily be replaced. It is a continual struggle of power between criminals and authorities.  

Top 5 most viewed posts

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I am taking a small break from blogging over the August/September period but I will be back soon. In the meantime, here are the most viewed/shared posts over the past 5 months. Enjoy!

  1. 3 Training grounds to train the white hacker in you
  2. Why China is a parallel universe
  3. Breaking Https:// with Bar mitzvah
  4. 3 PR disasters caused by innocent mistakes
  5. Breaking Https:// with Poodle

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @shuutech. I follow back

8 things to stop doing immediately

We can always take online security a little for granted but some behaviours put us at more risk than others. This isn’t an exhaustive list so if you can think of more, please add it to the comments. Another one I wanted to add but couldn’t find a picture for is failing to verify a BSB/Account Number with someone you are transferring money to. You should always verify over two different mediums before transferring e.g. sms/email/phone (especially if you are transferring a large amount of money). People have lost a lot of money by missing this simple step.

1. Give away personally identifiable information about children’s whereabouts, likes/dislikes and birthdays.

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2. Plastering family/bumper stickers all over your car. You might as well wear a “come rob me” sign.

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3. Using Windows XP and/or Internet Explorer 6. No anti-virus/spyware protection

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4. Checking emails/banking accounts/social media accounts over “Free Public Wifi”. Ok so if this is a little hard to avoid, at the very least be aware of the risks, avoid doing banking over this channel and change your passwords frequently. Also, set different passwords for your accounts…

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5. Logging in/entering your password details from email links. This can be a phishing attack to steal log in credentials. Instead, always log in via the official website.

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6. Going to the official site and entering login/password details in without checking the URL/certificate details. Instead, look for a green bar.

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7. Doing stupid things in public like Karen Bailey’s epic racist rant against Chinese people. You will be publicly disgraced and even arrested.

Do: Stand up to racists (non-violently). The guy in the background became a national hero after hitting back with “You’re scum”

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8. Posting stupid things online that you can never take back. Justine learnt the hard way after losing her job after this tweet. The tweet spread like wildfire and a campaign for her immediate dismissal had taken off during her return flight. By the time she landed, she had already lost her job.

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UK close to banning the use of WhatsApp, iMessage and SnapChat to protect National Security.

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Applications that provide an encrypted messaging platform, like WhatsApp, are under threat by countries that are increasingly reliant on snooping as part of their National Security strategy. The UK is proposing a new law as part of their “Snoopers Charter”, also known as Draft Communication Bill, to enforce a ban on applications like WhatsApp, iMessage and SnapChat that use encrypted messages. Under this new proposed bill, Internet Service Providers must monitor the online activity of customers and keep logs of their activities for 12 months.

This isn’t a surprise though, as the use of mass surveillance to protect national security and counter terrorism is widely used and increasing around the world. The five most controversial ones include:

China – 1998 the Great Firewall of China

ChinaFirewall This is a censorship and surveillance program designed by the Chinese government to filter and control the content that is accessed by the public. This program also prohibits individuals from using the internet to harm national security, spread false rumors or encourage socially undesirable behavior like gambling, violence or murder. This is an extremely controversial program that China has been widely criticized for by human rights and civil liberties groups.
USA – 2001 Patriot Act
USA This was introduced following the September 11 and anthrax attacks. This was an extremely controversial bill which many felt was an over-extension of the US government’s surveillance powers. Some of the most controversial parts allowed government agencies to:
  • Confiscate the property of foreigners who are believed to have aided in a war or an attack on the USA.
  • Authorize the roving surveillance of any individuals under investigation (using any means available to intercept a person’s communications. An extension of wire-tapping)
  • Authorize the use of National Security Letters to demand a release of information about individuals without them knowing.
  • Detain terrorism suspects without providing them with access to lawyers and without hearings or formal charges

This law was controversial as it reversed many of the civil liberties that were guaranteed under the US Constitution e.g. right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Originally introduced by the Bush administration, subsequent US administrations have tried to remove it but the US has grown too reliant on this as an Anti-Terrorism measure. The original bill which expired in 2011, has been renewed two times since (including in 2015) and will be up for renewal again in 2019.

France – 2015 Patriot Act
france Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, France passed their own version of the Patriot Act in June this year. Despite opposition from civil liberties groups, the bill was passed by the Senate on June 9 2015 with overwhelming support. This gives French government agencies the authorization to conduct mass surveillance over all communications without judicial approval and deploy new infrastructure to sniff all electronic communications. The new law also requires Internet Service providers to be able to crawl through internet traffic to identify terrorist activities.
Australia – 2015 Data Retention laws
fiveeyes Australia has been wire-tapping phones for years and this has increased year-on-year. The government has also requested ISP’s and search engines (like Google) to provide private information on web browsing histories and private user information. And transparency reports have shown that this activity is increasing. As of August 2014, government agencies can obtain this information without a warrant or user disclosure. Recently, the government has passed a data retention bill that mandates ISP’s to store data on user activities for two years. Australia is also part of the Five Eyes alliance.
Russia – SORM (System of Operative Measures)
russia Russia is a surveillance state and their powers are extensive. This has even led to US issuing this travel warning ahead of tourists travelling to Sochi for the 2013 Winter Olympics.
“Consider traveling with “clean” electronic devices—if you do not need the device, do not take it. Otherwise, essential devices should have all personal identifying information and sensitive files removed or “sanitized.” Devices with wireless connection capabilities should have the Wi-Fi turned off at all times. Do not check business or personal electronic devices with your luggage at the airport. … Do not connect to local ISPs at cafes, coffee shops, hotels, airports, or other local venues. … Change all your passwords before and after your trip. … Be sure to remove the battery from your Smartphone when not in use. Technology is commercially available that can geo-track your location and activate the microphone on your phone. Assume any electronic device you take can be exploited. … If you must utilize a phone during travel consider using a “burn phone” that uses a SIM card purchased locally with cash. Sanitize sensitive conversations as necessary” http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2013/Russia-surveillance

The new social. Will you thrive or get left behind?

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Social media is changing everything. It is changing the way we get jobs, run businesses and consume content. The changes are becoming as disruptive as the internet. So…how will this affect you? History tells us that those who ride the waves can thrive and even make millions out of thin air just by keeping abreast of the trends. For example, Kevin Ham, built a $300 Million Empire from just reserving domains before companies got to them. Just from reserving www.greeting.com, he made a cool $350K. We are on another cusp of great change, and we have been on this journey for a while now. So given the changes…

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How we get a job
The typical cover letter and resume is becoming less relevant. Although it is still very much used during recruitment, employers and recruiters are increasingly turning to social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to filter candidates. LinkedIn was recently valuated at $26.15 Billion dollars in July 2015, which is almost triple what LinkedIn was worth at the same time in 2012. According to experts, 98% of recruiters and 85% hiring managers use LinkedIn to find and scan candidates. Fashion models now require an active Instagram account with a strong follower base to be selected for campaigns.

So what does this mean for you and future you?
There is a growing trend of candidates being directly approached by recruiters through social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter. So instead of employees approaching employers/recruiters about jobs, it has flipped. If this continues to increase, there will be less jobs advertised and obtained through traditional means. How do candidates stand out in this environment? Will it depend on how they market their skills or through their activity/influence on social media? Perhaps both?

o-JUSTIN-BIEBER-TWEETS-facebookHow we consume news
Before the internet, print was king as this was the only way to receive news. The printed press has been on a steady decline ever since. Nowadays, more news is consumed on Social Media than ever before as everyone is reading and sharing news content. Instead of visiting a news sites, news is shared on Twitter/LinkedIn and Facebook feeds. Consumers choose what they want to share and journalists/bloggers and businesses can reach their readers instantly. People are also able to provide feedback. There is nothing more gratifying than for a wronged consumer to write a very public customer complaint and to receive a few hundred likes and shares by other disgruntled consumers.

So what does this mean for you and the future you?
The scale of citizenship journalism today offers a freedom that no other generations have had in the past. Now anyone and everyone can create newsworthy content and influence public opinion on matters close to their heart. This presents an opportunity for everyone to participate in any discussion they like.

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How we conduct business
The internet challenged many bricks and mortar businesses. There is an online countdown on the death of certain types of businesses, from music and record stores (e.g. Sanity) to book shops (e.g. Borders). Businesses learnt pretty quickly that the difference between sinking and swimming is to establish an online presence and have great SEO. However, consumers are now expecting to be able to establish an authentic connection with the brands they shop with. Recently, Forbes wrote an article about millennial consumer habits and discovered these insights:

  • 99% aren’t influenced at all by advertising
  • 43% value authenticity over content
  • 62% engage with brands on social network
  • 75% expect brands to give back to society

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2015/01/20/10-new-findings-about-the-millennial-consumer/

What does this mean for business today and in the future?
As people are spending more time on Social Media and connecting to businesses through these platforms, will the success of building an active and connected follower base become as important as SEO?

Cracking the Enigma: How Alan Turing was destroyed by the people he saved

alan-turing-s-100th-12-celebratory-images-from-across-the-web-f0424e174dDuring WW2, Germany coordinated their war strategy through a series of encrypted messages, passed from central command to their armed forces. German cryptologists used an Enigma machine to do this. Enigma used Symmetric Cryptography, meaning that the same key was used for both encryption and decryption. Each letter was sent through a series of circuits (consisting of a plug board and 3 rotating wheels) to create a highly randomized output.  The key is the Enigma set-up itself, which is the choice/order of the wheels, the ring setting and plug connections. Enigma configurations were changed daily. Every month, the Germans distributed a key sheet to Enigma operators. This contained a list of different configurations for each day of the month. This key sheet was critical to be able to decrypt the codes. As there were 159 million possible Enigma settings, the time taken to go through all the possible Enigma configurations to decrypt a message would not have been worth the effort.
2009-09-25_3946 The British needed a fast method to decrypt the codes. German troops were advancing fast and the Allied troops needed an advantage. They hired a team of mathematicians and problem solvers to create a decryption machine. Alan Turing lead efforts in Bletchley Park to create one he called The Bombe (not to be confused with another Polish machine of the same name). Exploiting a critical flaw in Enigma, the Bombe was able to decrypt Enigma messages in under 20 minutes. As the Enigma has a rule that a letter could not become itself, the Bombe worked backwards to deduce all the impossible rotor and plug board configurations that violated this rule. It was able to do this very quickly via electrical circuits.

Click here for more information about how Enigma worked and how it was finally broken: 
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As the British wanted to continue to spy on the German forces, the operation continued on in secret. This action resulted in the saving of countless lives and the allied success of key battles, including D-Day. After the war, Alan Turing went on to work for the National Physical Laboratory and published a paper on Artificial Intelligence in 1950 called “The Turing Test”.

Despite all his achievements, Alan Turing’s contributions to allied war victory went mostly unnoticed. He was disgraced and arrested for homosexuality in 1952. He was given a choice of imprisonment or hormone treatments to “cure” his homosexuality. He chose hormone treatments. This didn’t “cure” his homosexuality, instead it resulted in his suffering of emotional and physical scars during the ordeal, eventually culminating to his death at the young age of 41. It wasn’t until 2009 that Britain issued an official apology to Turing.

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Gordon Brown “He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war,” said Brown. “The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. … Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted, under homophobic laws, were treated terribly.”

http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/on-this-day/March-April-08/On-this-Day–British-WWII-Code-Breaker-Goes-on-Trial-for-Homosexuality.html

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Alan Turing is now regarded as a father of Cryptography, Artificial Intelligence and the modern computer. In 2014, Benedict Cumberbatch starred as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, which became the highest grossing independent film in the year. It was nominated in eight categories in the 87th Academy Awards and won the People’s Choice Award at the 39th Toronto International Film Festival. This film was also honored for bringing Turing’s legacy to the public. Alan Turing was also honored at the 2015 London Pride march as a Pride Hero for his contributions. His family represented him in the march. This also happened to coincide with a landmark USA Supreme Court ruling that gay marriage would be recognized under the US Constitution, making all marriages legal across America

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